May 2017 News

Operation Aimed To 'restore' Writ

4 May 2017
Kashmir Reader
Wasim Khalid and Anees Zargar

Srinagar: The massive crackdown, akin to 1990's, laid around more than a dozen villages of Shopian on Thursday was, according to sources, aimed to restore the writ of the government on the ground. Top police and army sources concede that South Kashmir has gone 'out of hand' with militants calling the shots in four districts. The increased activity of militants - barging into homes of policemen, bank robberies, weapon snatching, and attacks on political workers - has turned south Kashmir into a lost battleground. Police has advised its men not to visit their homes, while pro-India political activists have taken refuge in Srinagar. 'The writ of the government is not fully (in force) on the ground,' a senior police official told Kashmir Reader. 'That is why we carried (out) the search and cordon operation. This was an effort to restore the writ of the state'. In recent days, two Peoples Democratic Party workers, including a district president, and a National Conference worker were killed by the militants. In past one month militants have snatched nine weapons from police and killed five policemen besides looting banks. The 'pre-emptive area-domination' exercise, carried out jointly by Police, Rashtriya Rifles, and CRPF, was launched in some 17 villages around Tehsil Chitragam. The villages are part of the Wachi area of Shopian, a constituency that was represented in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti until 2014. Thursday's crackdown was aimed not only to act as a deterrent for militants but also to instil confidence among the government machinery. 'This was the biggest cordon and search operation carried out by the government forces in a decade in Kashmir. In areas close to Line of Control or other jungle areas, we often conducted such operations for days, but in habitations it has been after a decade,' sources said. During the operation, the government forces were aided with aerial support by a helicopter and several drones, who manned the skies, while the troops carried out extensive search operation on the ground. According to a CRPF official, nearly 14 companies of CRPF were part of the operation. 'Apart from the 114 Bn CRPF, several other companies who had been called during the parliamentary polling, were involved in the operation,' the official said. The crackdown, launched before dawn, concluded at around 3 pm following which protests were also reported from the district. An official said that the operation comes in the wake of increasing militant activity. Agencies believe that the militants could have filmed several videos that surfaced online recently in this area, he said. In one of the videos, more than 30 militants were seen posing in front of the camera while in another militant video, 16 militants featured in an arms training session. Most of the militants active in Kashmir, especially the home grown ones from south Kashmir, are believed to be active in the interconnected areas of Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama. The election commission cancelled parliamentary by-polls, scheduled in Anantnag constituency on May 25, after terming the deteriorating situation in these areas as 'scary'.